My American Thanksgiving

November 28, 2008

I know it’s often said that Canada is a mere appendage of the U.S., the 51st state, the spleen of the continent that no one really knows exists and seems to have no necessary function, blah blah blah.  Maybe it’s true; maybe we are like the unassuming cousin from out of town who never speaks at the holiday table, or the scrawny kid at the beach the girls never notice.  And, like many underdogs, we in Canada seem to know more about our more powerful, more popular, more infamous neighbor than they know about us (I will never forget the time, as a teen, that I visited cousins in New Jersey–about 560 miles/900 km. from where I lived at the time.  A friend of my cousin’s, learning that I was Canadian, blurted out, “Oh! I know a Canadian!  Do you know Steven Ruttenberg?”  To which, astonishingly, I was obliged to reply, “Um, why yes, yes, I do know Steven Ruttenberg. . .”–for as it turned out, he went to my high school!  And so now, for ever more, that poor girl will believe that Canada really is, after all, a pinhead of a backwater, underdeveloped country where everyone knows each other!). 

How about a little quiz?  Okay, Americans out there! Quick, answer these:  Who’s the Canadian Prime Minister?  How many provinces in Canada?  What’s our official language?*  What does our flag look like?  Pick any Canadian on any streetcorner in pretty much any Canadian city, and s/he will know the answers to all those questions as they relate to the U.S.  Why?  Because, first of all, we sort of have to (see above); but also, because those rumors are, to a great extent, true: we are influenced by the US, we do follow their culture more than they follow ours, and we really do depend on that comforting, protective, bear-paw of an embrace from our bigger, more powerful cousins to the south. 

I know this notion (that we are unduly influenced by and, to some extent even dominated by, the U.S.) bothers some of my compatriots.  For my part, I have to admit, I’ve always felt a great affection and affinity toward the States.  First, several of my relatives live in America, from California to New York and New Jersey to Massachusetts, and they are some of my favorite people in the world.  I spent many idyllic childhood summers with my Boston cousins.  Second, having completed both an MA and a PhD in Modern American Literature, I’ve probably read more American than Canadian fiction and consider many of the US authors as role models (and, for those of you who notice such things, that’s also the reason why I, a proud Canadian, use predominantly “American” spelling on this blog–writing about American authors for American professors for many years, that spelling now feels natural to me).  Third, just as the “they’re so polite” clichés about Canadians happen to be (for the most part) true, so are the “they’re so friendly and hospitable” or “they’re incredibly generous” clichés about Americans. (And, as the HH is always quick to point out, customer service in the US runs circles–CIRCLES–around its Canadian counterpart (and counter person).

And so, it made perfect sense that yesterday, on American Thanksgiving, I, too, was extremely grateful along with y’all–and, in particular, grateful for the existing U.S.-Canada connections. 

Why, you ask?  Well, I arrived home to discover that I’d received a skillfully wrapped and well-taped brown paper package in the mail (ooh, that sounds rather salacious somehow, doesn’t it?), boasting American postage and filled with amazing vegan goodies! 

I’d signed up to be part of Lindsay (from Cooking for a Vegan Lover)’s blogging Care Package Swap event and there was my box of treats!  I discovered Lindsay’s blog when she commented on mine a while back, and am so glad she did!  I’ve been enjoying the posts from Lindsay and her hubby Neil, who live and write in Vermont. They include recipes, restaurant reviews, and other foodie tidbits like CSA news and animal-friendly events.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to rip off the brown paper and tape to reveal the following:


Look at that haul!  Neil (my exchange partner) sent an incredible array of fantastic and organic treats–and–how thoughtful is this???–everything is wheat-free!  swaplizlovelyThe products are also made in Vermont or environs.  I literally jumped up and down when I saw the Liz Lovely cookies–I’d read so much over the years about Liz Lovely,   and finally got to sample my very own (GF) Chocolate Fudge cookie (which I did the second I opened the box, of course).  The package also included the following delectables (left to right):

  • Road’s End organic Savory Herb Gravy Mix;
  • a Cashew Vanilla WaGuRu Chew (smothered in Vanilla Caramel–doesn’t that just sound irresistible??);
  • (slightly hidden behind the shampoo bottle) Zootons Organic Gummies candy in a variety of fruity flavors;
  • All Natural Elmore Mountain Farm Lavender shampoo (smells heavenly);
  • the amazing Liz Lovely cookies, with, in the foreground–
  • a Dan’s Chocolates “The Caffeinator” truffle;
  • a bar of Montpelier Chocolate Factory’s Dark Strawberry and Coconut chocolate (strawberry!  Cannot wait to try that one!), and behind it–
  • a bottle of Vermont Pepper Works Chocolate Chipotle Pepper Sauce (rated XX Hot–will be diving into that asap!);
  • a box of Road’s End Organics Mac and Chreese–with rice pasta!;
  • a piece of Pure Vermont Maple Candy from Brookfield Sugarmakers (which, despite being raised in Quebec, I have never tried–so looking forward to this, too!); and–somehow left out of the photo (perhaps because they were already gobbled up??)–
  • two–one for each of The Girls–packs of organic, handmade dog biscuits!

THANKS SO MUCH, Neil!  I can’t wait to try out all the goodies, all the while gratefully basking in the glow of my American neighbour’s generosity and hospitality. 🙂 What fun it was to participate in this swap!


And Neil, Chaser and I thank you, too!  It was especially nice to have such delicious dog biscuits while I’m convalescing. . . if you were here, I’d thank you properly, of course, but for now you’ll just have to accept a virtual lick to the ear.”

* Perhaps that was a trick question.  There are, in reality, two official languages (muffle, muffle, guffaw, cackle):  English and French.


18 Responses to “My American Thanksgiving”

  1. Ricki Says:

    THANKS to everyone who left such warm and fuzzy comments about/to Elsie re: her injury. I wasn’t able to reply to everyone individually, but wanted you all to know how much I (and she) appreciate the virtual hugs! She’s doing much better and is learning not to bump into door frames and walls as she navigates the house with her conehead. She should be used to it just in time for it to come off on Tuesday!

  2. VeggieGirl Says:

    Care-package swaps with incredible bloggers = definitely something to be thankful for 🙂

    I’m sooooooo glad that Elsie is doing better – I’m still praying for her full recovery!!

  3. Shelby Says:

    Wow, everything in that package looks delicious!!!

    I’m so glad Elsie is doing well, I’m hoping for a speedy recovery =)

  4. Andrea Says:

    Lucky you. That’s quite a stash!

    And you are so right—we US citizens are very ignorant of our fellow Americans, North and South. You’re very generous in your affections for such a self-centered bunch.

    Maybe because I lived for years in upstate NY not so far from the Canadian border, and because we traveled widely throughout Canada, I have a great fondness for your beautiful country, too. (saw my first moose there!) And, of course we know what your flag looks like. We’re not THAT hopeless! And French and English. Been to 8 out of 10 provinces. The Prime Minister? Duh…you got me.

    One more thing. At our Thanksgiving party, one of the guests, who is avoiding gluten, was drinking a GF beer—no wheat!

    My best to Elsie. Give her a tummy rub from me.

  5. sorry I missed your last post! I hope Elise feels better very soon. She’s so cute, and certainly deserves a care package!

  6. Lucky you! How thoughtful of Neil to include treats for The Girls!

    This post was so lovely, and you write so beautifully. I feel like my vocabulary consists of 50 words compared to your effortlessly charming blog posts!

  7. Johanna Says:

    What a lovely package! And a generous post about Americans! Strangely enough, a lot of the angst about your big brother neighbour has a lot of similarities with how Australians feel about the USA (in fact I always thought we were the 51st state!)

  8. Katie Says:

    That is so interesting about Canada! I live in the States, but I have always wanted to travel to Canada. My sister wants to move there.

  9. BitterSweet Says:

    What an awesome swap!

    And Elise is such a trooper- Best wishes to her, hope she is better asap!

  10. giz Says:

    Poor Elsie – don’t you just feel so helpless when they look rather pathetic in their Victorian collar.

    Hand up high in the air – I can answer all the questions – wait…no fair … I’m Canadian (kicking sand)

  11. holler Says:

    I am glad Elsie is ok! It was generous of Neil to send dog biscuits too!

  12. I have enjoyed strolling through your blog so far. It is always a pleasure to find another Canadian. I grew up in Eastern Canada…well Ontario….and now live in BC.I have added you to my blog roll as a fellow Canadian as well:D

  13. shellyfish Says:

    I grew up as an “almost Canadian”, and as I’ve mentioned before, was oft asked if I weren’t Canadian “because of my accent & spelling” (both in the SW United States, and here in France when speaking English). I used to wear my “I Am Canadian” t-shirt with pride (until an ex stole it, jerk), and I count myself lucky for having grown up on the Ontario/MI border and “knowing” both cultures as a child.
    I did always wonder why you used US standard spelling, and now I know! Did you know that here in Europe, more and more the US spelling & grammar are pushing out the BBC Standard? The linguistic shifts are so interesting to me.
    So glad Elsie is on the mend! And that swap box! Most excellent!

  14. What a fun and thoughtful surprise! Those goodies sound great.

  15. Liz Says:

    The Steven Ruttenberg story made me laugh out loud — too funny Ricki! And I’m ashamed to say I really need to sharpen up my Canadian knowledge.

    I am SO jealous of your package. Those Liz Lovely cookies are AMAZING.. especially the chocolate fudge.

    And Henry had to wear one of those after he jumped on a glass coffee table at my parents and had to get stiches… maybe Henry and Elsie are meant to be 😉

  16. Susan G Says:

    While it’s true that many Americans would not know the answers to your Canadian quiz (shame on us!), sadly many would not be able to answer similar questions about our own country!

  17. You actually knew the one Canadian that girl was referring to? How random is that? ! 🙂

  18. ttfn300 Says:

    hmm, well i knew the answer to the official language 😉 but that’s all i got… so much to be thankful for!!

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